The TSA promotes its risked based inclusion techniques as one of the ways it keeps travelers safe and saves taxpayers money. For a couple of years the TSA has been using a randomizer app at dozens of airports, which randomly directs people into the PreCheck lane (because nothing quite helps manage risk like a randomizer app). Per Bloomberg, here’s the purpose of this randomizer app:
The TSA uses software to randomly choose whether travelers in the PreCheck lanes go left or right, making it harder for potential terrorists to detect any patterns. The randomization also helps to prevent accusations of racial or other profiling.
For those of you who haven’t seen the randomizer app in action, here’s a video (the commentary is sort of hilarious):
Kevin Burke submitted a Freedom Of Information Act request with the TSA to see just how much it cost the TSA to build this app, given how simplistic it seems. As he explains, a beginner could code an app like that in a day, so you’d think this didn’t cost the TSA very much. Well, unfortunately you’d be wrong.
There were several bids for the contract to develop this randomizer app, and IBM ended up winning the contract with a bid of $336,413.59. That’s right, the TSA paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop a randomizer app.
It’s worth noting that there were eight other payments as part of the same award, which totaled $1,444,315. Unfortunately we don’t know all the details of the rest of the contract, though.
Your taxpayer dollars at work, folks…